Thursday, August 20, 2020

Understanding what Republican voters want

In, Jonathan V. Last characterizes the “Republican voters”.

There are a lot well-meaning conservatives and Republicans who believe that the aftermath of Trump will be a period of intellectual ferment and so they are committed to staying engaged with these two overlapping movements in order to be part of the reform, or tend to the green shoots, or whatever.

There are a couple problems with this view of the world. The biggest one is the voters.

Because if Republican voters want one thing, then all of the position papers and conferences coming out of Conservatism Inc. aren’t going to convince them to choose another thing.

Which brings us to Laura Loomer. She won the Republican primary for Florida–21 last night. Not in spite of being a crazy, but because she is a crazy.

This is what Republican voters want.

A few more data points:

  • Six QAnon believers have won Republican primaries this cycle.
  • One of them, Marjorie Taylor Greene, has been warmly embraced by both Republican House leadership and President Trump.
  • There’s Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 over a bevy of actual conservatives, including Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Perry.
  • There’s this little nugget of Republican primary preferences for 2024, where Donald Trump Jr. was in second place and polling at 17 percent. Which is—let’s just be honest here—bonkers unless you view the party as a cult.

In fairness, this is not all Republican voters. But it’s enough.

  • Less than half of Republicans believe that COVID–19 is a major threat to public health.
  • 63 percent of Republicans say that the extent of the coronavirus is exaggerated.
  • A quarter of the public thinks that the pandemic is the result of a planned conspiracy.
  • 40 percent of Republicans say COVID–19 is no more deadly than the flu.
  • 50 percent of Republicans say the COVID–19 death toll is an exaggeration.
  • 23 percent of Republicans say masks should be worn “rarely” or “never.”

These are The People. And you’re going to win a lot of primary races with a bloc of voters that size.

It is unclear to me what suite of policy options professional Republicans and conservatives could possibly offer these voters to compete with the psychic payoffs they get for voting for the Trumps and Loomers of the world.

Never forget: A political party is only as good as its voters will let it be.

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